- Graeme Simpson
Mike D'Antoni's Next Destination
The last couple of weeks have been full of surprises in the NBA Coaching Landscape. The latest news the basketball world has received is that Rockets Coach, Mike D'antoni, will not return next season to coach the team. D'Antoni informed the franchise that he's becoming a coaching free agent and won't return to the team next season, he told ESPN on Sunday. D'antoni's contract was set to expire at the end of the season after he turned down contract extension offers at the beginning of this season.
This departure seems to be mutual. D'antoni told ESPN Senior NBA Insider, Adrian Wojnarowski, that he was looking forward to a new chapter in his journey. As for the Rockets organization, they put out a statement saying changes were being made as result of "changing the culture". As soon as the news broke about D'antoni, a flurry of rumors began to appear all across social media. For a Free-Agent coach, this 2020 offseason has the most coaching vacancies we have seen in a number of years. I have narrowed down a list of 4 teams that D'antoni would most likely be coaching next season.
1. New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans have one of the best young cores in the NBA. With the lights of Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Josh Hart, you have to think about how well D'antoni would fit with this team. The 7 seconds or less style of play could impact the young New Orleans roster tremendously. After the Pels took an exit in the bubble seeding-games, many questions have been asked on when will this team take the jump to a playoff team, year in and year out. I truly believe that Mike D'antoni would do wonders for this team and organization if he were able to take reign as head coach.
2. Philadelphia 76ers
Philadelphia seems to be a hot destination for coaches this offseason. Many coaches have shown interest in the job after Brett Brown was relieved of his duties in August. D'antoni would have competition such as Billy Donovan, Ty Lue, Stan Van Gundy, Ime Udoka, Adrian Griffin, and many others. Mike D'antoni would no doubt have to blow away the Philly front office if he wanted the job. Which, isn't that far fetched. I like this move for Philly. By bringing in D'antoni, you are forced to creat shooters around Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Although, the 7 seconds or less mantra wouldn't fit for the Sixers with their current roster, they said they were picking up the phone for every trade this off-season (for players other than Joel or Ben.)
3. Indiana Pacers
The Indiana Pacers fired head coach, Nate McMillan, after a 1st round sweep to the hands of the Miami Heat. The Pacers are a young team, who is not in rebuilding mode, which is perfect for D'antoni. Oladipo has been very inconsistent on the offensive side of the ball since his injury last season. Some people around the NBA have called D'antoni an offensive mastermind, which could help Oladipo exceedingly. The Pacers also have 2 bonified big men. Sabonis, who was an all-star this year, along with Myles Tuner, has been must-watch basketball when they are on the floor together. To make a championship run, the Pacers are in need of one more piece of the puzzle, but could D'antoni as a coach make Indiana a prime Free Agent destination?
4. Chicago Bulls
Not only do the Bulls already have a very explosive offense, but they also have great up and coming players. It is very likely that either Wendell Carter Jr. or Lauri Markkanen will have to get dealt this offseason. With D'antoni at helm, finding a wing shooter in stretch big in return for Carter or Markkanen won't be very difficult. Also, Zach Lavine is a very fast-paced player, which is a trend in recent superstars among D'antoni coached teams. To me, Hiring D'antoni would be huge for the futures of Zach Lavine and Coby White, which are 2 players the Bulls Front Office thinks very highly of. Unfortunately for D'antoni, much like the 76ers job, he will have tough competition heading into the coaching race, which could be a huge reason why he does not end up with this job.